BRASILIA: Brazilian Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo has welcomed signs that the financial imbalance with the European game is gradually being corrected. The forthcoming World Cup had a key role to play in a revival and expansion of domestic football.

In a media column the one-time journalist, who holds a key role in preparations for this year’s Confederations Cup and the 2014 World Cup, has identified the influence of ‘new money’ in the domestic game.

“There is a long list now,” said Rebelo. “We had Ronaldo [coming back from Europe] at Corinthians, Ronaldinho Gaucho to Flamengo and now Atletico Mineiro, Ze Roberto in Gremio, Dida in Portuguesa, Alex in Curitiba and now the defender Lucio at Sao Paulo.

“At the end of last year it seems there were negotiations for the returns of Robinho and Alessandro Pato. Some people are saying these are older players but the fact is that right now they, and players like them, are with some of the greatest clubs in the world.

“Lucio, for example, had a choice of nine clubs but now has, at Sao Paulo, a contract which compares very well with what he could have earned at Juventus.”

Rebelo was also encouraged by the sight of Neymar, newly re-elected as South American Footballer of the Year, sticking wih Santos.

He said: “We are still a long way from being able to keep all our best young players but the permanence here of the finest of them all, Neymar, is a signal that not all our gold is going abroad.

“Ganso is another example. He left Santos but only to join Sao Paulo for R$24m (£8m).

“Bringing home while also holding on to our star players can be seen as a sign of [the country’s] business expansion. Our Sports Ministry assessments calculate football as representing 0.2pc of gdp but that it has the potential to reach 1.2pc.”

The infrastructure developed for the approaching World Cup could only enhance the increasing power of the domestic game.

Rebelo said: “The 2014 finals will leave a legacy of modern, comfortable stadia which will attract more fans back to the game.

“Sensible management, along with a new generation of directors, can only lead to an expansion of our football – as long as we also make sure that we maintain our technical mastery and enjoyment of the game.”